Friday, 15 August 2014

Art At Brain-Watkins House

"The New Pet"
Framed colour print of painting by Arthur J. Elsley
Brain-Watkins House Collection
Brain-Watkins House has two portraits by Arthur Elsley,  a well-known painter of children and animals in the late 19th century. Two prints of his works, "The New Pet" and "Out of Reach," as well as a copy of another “Don’t Tell” done in black pencil by Bessie Brain, decorate the wall of the Drawing room. Sadly “The New Pet” is beginning to deteriorate , but to date research to find a replacement has been unsuccessful.

Arthur Elsley was born in London in 1860. His father was a coachman and amateur artiest who had exhibited in the British Institute Exhibition in 1846, but subsequently developed tuberculosis, forcing his early retirement.

"Out of Reach"
Framed sepia-tinted black-and-white print of painting by Arthur J. Elsley
Brain-Watkins House Collection
Arthur became a probationer at the Royal Academy school in 1876. A large number of his works were influenced by the frequent cycle trips he made to the countryside. He exhibited his first picture in “Portrait of an Old Pony” at the Royal Academy in 1878.

In 1882 he left the Academy and accepted private commissions, painting mainly children and dogs, and the Bennett-Stratford family of politicians living at Preston Manor in Brighton were  the main subjects for his work at this time. His first known published work was a line engraving entitled “ April Floods in Eastern Counties” published in the “Young England” magazine in 1885.

"Don't Tell"
Framed pencil copy by Bessie Brain of painting by Arthur J. Elsley
Brain-Watkins House Collection
Elsley was awarded a silver medal at the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1891 for his painting "The Bailiff’s Daughter of Islington." In 1992 his painting "The Biggest" depicting a young girl measuring her height against a St. Bernard, and later was engraved to satisfy public demand.

Elsely married in Emily Tesedale 1893 and they had one daughter – Marjorie – born in 1903. She became the subject of many of her father’s paintings. During the first World War he produced only four paintings, one of which features Marjorie and was exhibited in the Royal Academy. He died at home in Tunbridge Wells in 1952.


  1. Saw a print at a estate sale that caught my interest of the original painter. Very interesting what you find and learn.

  2. How many prints are there of "out of reach"? Was it a limited edition?